Sunday, April 21, 2024

Nail brings more goals

January 22, 2001
Senior right wing John Nail celebrates during the second period after scoring his third goal as Miami (Ohio) defenseman Jake Ortmeyer skates away during their game on Saturday at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans won 5-0. —

John Nail’s surname used to be a good indication of his style of play on the ice - tough.

But somewhere along the way, the senior right wing developed an effective scoring touch that has almost caused fans to forget about his hard-nosed reputation.

He leads the top-ranked Spartans in game-winning goals with five, ranks second on the team with 11 total tallies and recorded his first career hat trick Saturday night against Miami.

“It was a lucky night for me, I guess,” Nail said. “Two of the goals were almost like empty net goals and the third one, I don’t know how that went in. Basically, I think I had a couple of horseshoes with me tonight.”

Nail single-handedly chased RedHawk goaltender David Burleigh from the game by scoring three goals in 20 minutes and 14 seconds. He said it was his first hat trick since juniors.

His first goal resulted from a serendipitous bounce off the end boards that left senior left wing Sean Patchell alone with the puck in the left circle. Patchell fed Nail streaking to the net and Burleigh had no chance to stop the ensuing shot 36 seconds into the game.

“It was our line’s type of goal,” said Nail, who plays on MSU’s only all-senior line with Patchell and center Andrew Bogle. “Dump it in, force a turnover, get the puck in front and one-time it in.

“We keep stressing how we’re a defensive line, but I don’t know how much longer we can keep saying that,” he said with a laugh.

Later in Saturday’s first period, Nail tallied a power play goal with a wrist shot from the left circle. He then became the first Spartan since former center Mike York to record a hat trick when his rising slap shot eluded Burleigh 14 seconds into the middle frame.

York, who now plays for the New York Rangers, tallied MSU’s last hat trick on Jan. 8, 1999 against the RedHawks.

Nail only scored nine goals in his first three years as a Spartan, including a career-high five last season, but the past three weeks have been an offensive explosion for the Brampton, Ontario native.

He scored the championship-winning goal in overtime at the Great Lakes Invitational in December, had a two-point night against Yale on Jan. 5, and scored the game-winner against Lake Superior State last weekend on an 80-foot slap shot.

He now boasts career highs in goals and points with 11 and 16, respectively.

“I never really scored that much,” Nail said. “The puck usually bounces in the direction of the person who’s working harder and I think that’s how I’m getting most of my goals.

“I think it hurts me when I think too much. I just like to shoot the puck, make sure it’s on net and see what happens.”

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